Hundreds of homes are going up just three miles south of me. Of course businesses are following as well. The traffic south of my church went from being almost non-existent to constantly busy over the course of a year. I was down that way just the other day buying groceries at the grocery store that opened last fall and could not help but notice the marked change in traffic that occurs at the intersection near my church.
Truthfully, I was glad I had thought about urban sprawl when we were looking to buy a home in the area ten years ago. At the time I had commented that with a lake, a large hilly and wooded county regional park with a few lakes scattered through it and a huge tract of land owned by the state which contains not only a zoo but an environmental learning center, there was little danger of there being a lot of urban development. I was right. With the east dedicated to a city park and existing homes, the north untouchable land owned by the county and the state and existing homes already built to the west and the south there is little danger of any sort of super store being built adjacent to my backyard. Whew!
I was born and raised in a major city and consider myself to be a city girl at heart. However, I grew up in the City of Lakes, residing on top of the only natural gorge on the Mississippi River. In addition to the alleys and sidewalks, a familiar playground to any child of the city, my playground also included the woods along the Mississippi River as well as Minnehaha Park with it's 51 foot falls and various lakes whose shorelines are owned by the people of Minneapolis rather than by private parties. That is how it should be, I think!
In other words, I may be a city girl but I do not like urban sprawl with its bustling crowds any more than I like complete isolation. I prefer to be where I can be in close proximity to the perks of living in the city as well as the perks of living further away from it.
When it comes to the Church, I think that we have tended to move away from the "urban sprawl" of this world. It makes us uncomfortable. We don't like what we see so we find a safe, quiet little spot far away from "urban development" where we can quietly go about our business of reading or listening to God's Word, sing songs and pray "safe" prayers with people like ourselves.
Jesus didn't stay where it was comfortable. He was out on the streets among the people. He was out among the rich, the poor, the educated and the uneducated, the sick and the healthy, the religious snobs and the sinners. He was out on the streets... where the people were.
Where are we?